WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) today delivered the following opening statement at the House Rules Committee hearing on the American Health Care Act.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Chairman Sessions, Ranking Member McGovern, Members of the Rules Committee – thank you for allowing me to testify in support of the American Health Care Act, and thank you for your consideration of this important legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
“The Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – has been one failed promise after another. The fact is, this law has hurt far more Americans than it has helped.
“Millions of Americans have lost access to the health plans and doctors of their choice. Out-of-pocket costs are skyrocketing. And free-market competition in health care has all but disappeared.
“With the American Health Care Act, we have the best opportunity in seven years to repeal this collapsing law, clear the deck, and begin our step-by-step process to deliver a health care system that truly works for the American people.
“President Trump has called on Congress to take decisive action in health care reform. This legislation answers the President’s call to action in the thoughtful, deliberate way that Americans deserve.
“The Ways and Means portion of the American Health Care Act is focused on achieving two important priorities.
“First, delivering swift relief to the American people by repealing Obamacare’s most harmful provisions.
“We end the individual mandate tax penalty that has forced millions of Americans into plans they do not want and cannot afford.
“We end the employer mandate tax penalty, which has burdened our local job creators and made it harder for them to grow their businesses, hire new workers, and raise wages.
“And, we repeal Obamacare tax hikes that have driven up costs for the American people and reduced access to high-quality care.
“Our second priority with this legislation is to deliver on our promises to replace Obamacare with patient-focused solutions that truly expand choice, lower costs, and enhance competition.
“Here, we are taking action to reclaim control of health care from Washington, and put it back where it belongs – with patients, families, and states.
“We expand Health Savings Accounts and make them more flexible and user-friendly. This will give patients and families greater freedom to save their health care dollars for the future and spend them as they see fit.
“We protect health coverage for the more than 150 million Americans who receive it from their employers.
“And, for low- and middle-income Americans who do not receive coverage through work or a federal program, we offer an advanceable, refundable tax credit that people can use immediately to help purchase coverage that works best for them.
“These tax credits provide a much better free-market alternative to the inefficient Obamacare subsidies that exist today. They will deliver support to low- and middle-income Americans while also encouraging greater competition and innovation in the health insurance market.
“And, with greater competition, there will be more choices for the American people, lower costs, and better coverage that is tailored to the needs of patients and families – not Washington.
“Finally, to further ensure that the American Health Care Act accomplishes these important priorities for the American people, I would ask that the Rules Committee make in order the manager’s amendments to the bill.
“These manager’s amendments, which were made public on Monday evening, followed by an additional second degree technical amendment yesterday to correct drafting errors, take important actions to strengthen the American Health Care Act.
“They will better ensure that all Americans have the help they need to access the care that is right for them.
“Specifically, they will provide an additional $85 billion in tax relief by further reducing the medical expense deduction threshold for Americans with high health care expenses.
“Just last year, AARP supported a similar bill lowering the threshold to pre-Obamacare levels. According to AARP: “For the approximately eight to ten million Americans who annually take this deduction, it provides important tax relief which helps offset the costs of chronic medical conditions as well as long term care.”
“This new tax relief creates new resources available for the Senate to provide assistance – including enhancing the tax credit – to older Americans who purchase insurance in the individual market.
“In combination with the age-based tax credit and the Patient and State Stability Fund, which provides $100 billion to states to help targeted populations, this change reinforces the commitment of House Republicans to ensure Americans of all ages have access to patient-centered health insurance.
“Furthermore, these manager’s amendments will provide more immediate relief from Obamacare’s burdensome taxes on families and businesses, moving up the date of their repeal from 2018 to 2017.
“They will strengthen protections for the right to life by ensuring that only the amount of the tax credit that is needed to cover the premiums is used, rather than allowing the excess to roll over into a Health Savings Account (HSA). This further ensures federal dollars cannot be used for abortion services.
“And, finally, they will help guarantee that this legislation meets our reconciliation requirements so that it can maintain privileged status in the Senate and move quickly to the President’s desk.
“In closing, I want to thank Chairman Walden and Chairman Black for your leadership on the American Health Care Act. And, again, I want to thank the Rules Committee for your consideration of this important legislation.”